Last Update 22:17
Friday, 15 November 2019

Saudi Arabia allows foreign men and women to share hotel rooms

Reuters , Saturday 5 Oct 2019
Saudi Arabia
FILE PHOTO: A Saudi man walks past renovated buildings at the historic city of Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 27, 2019. REUTERS
Share/Bookmark
Views: 847
Share/Bookmark
Views: 847

Saudi Arabia is allowing foreign men and women to rent hotel rooms together without proving they are related, after the conservative Muslim kingdom launched a new tourist visa regime to attract holidaymakers.

Women, including Saudis, are also permitted to rent hotel rooms by themselves, in a break with previous regulations.

The moves appear to pave the way for unaccompanied women to travel more easily and for unmarried foreign visitors to stay together in the Gulf state, where sex outside of marriage is banned.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage confirmed a report on Friday by Arabic-language newspaper Okaz, adding: "All Saudi nationals are asked to show family ID or proof of relationship on checking into hotels. This is not required of foreign tourists. All women, including Saudis, can book and stay in hotels alone, providing ID on check-in."

Saudi Arabia threw open its doors last week to foreign tourists from 49 countries as it tries to grow that sector and diversify its economy away from oil exports. As part of the move, it decreed that visitors need not wear all-covering black robes but should dress modestly. Alcohol remains banned.

Saudi Arabia has been relatively closed off for decades and until recently unrelated men and women, including foreigners, could be severely punished for mixing in public. Strict social codes have been relaxed in recent years and previously banned entertainment has flourished.

But an influx of tourists -- the authorities are aiming for 100 million annual visits by 2030 -- could push boundaries further and risks conservative backlash.

The kingdom ended a heavily criticised ban on women driving last year and in August granted women new rights to travel abroad, chipping away at a guardianship system that assigns each woman a male relative to approve important decisions throughout their lives.

The changes are part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious economic and social reform agenda.

Until now, foreigners travelling to Saudi Arabia have been largely restricted to resident workers and their dependents, business travellers, and Muslim pilgrims who are given special visas to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.